2022 Travels with Morris
Travels with Morris, Part Deux
Or The NAMGAR GT-47 Experience, 2022
By Morris Garagian
I guess this narrative goes back to NAMGAR GT-42. Bro Jay from the Valley British Auto Club suggested I join the North American MGA Register. That way we would both be members prior to attending GT- 42 in Solvang, CA, a mere 207 mile trek from our home in California’s Central Valley. Needless to say, a great time was had by all on the central CA coast in early June, 2017. Morris met many wonderful people, saw great cars, attended informative technical sessions, and had a fantastic time. Of course, being a ‘newbie’, folks were interested in Green Goblin and stories of arrival in Solvang. One story, in particular, inspired Morris to attend future GTs (Get Togethers). It seems I was relating the story of how Jay and self had traveled the valley in 102 degree temps to get to our destination. Shortly after relating this story, I remember Lee & Liz Niner, along with members of the Mid Atlantic Car Club and some Michigan Rowdies, relating their experiences of CA heat, namely coming across the Mojave with temperatures approaching 115-118! Needless to say, my mouth went into instant shutdown mode.
Fast forward to 2022, and the venue for GT-47 was to be another western location: Colorado Springs. True, the distance was a mere 6 times the distance to Solvang, but what the hey, if the Rowdies & Mid Atlantic folks could make CA, I should be able to make CO. It was soon discovered that Beloved Navigator would not be able to take time off from work, but she did not like the idea of Goblin & self making the trip solo. The few MGAers in the VBAC all had commitments, so I put out some ‘feelers’ to CA & NV car clubs to gather some interest. Bingo! I lucked out when Mike Jacobsen, the NAMGAR Registrar, expressed an interest. Very soon, we were joined by Scott & Cathy Johnston. (Scott & Cathy were familiar with the VBAC. They had shown their car at the VBAC Roundup in years past.) So, our CA Caravan was set: Scott & Cathy w/ Tinker Bell, their Old English White Twin Cam, Mike w/ Baby Gee, his Iris Blue 1600 5 sp., and Morris with Goblin.
This was our proposed route: Mike and I would meet in the Fresno area, go through Yosemite National Park, go over Tioga Pass, take US 395 to Carson City, meet with Scott and Cathy, then head eastbound on US 50 (loneliest road in America), breaking off on CO 115, terminating in Colorado Springs. June 1 started off textbook. The typical San Joaquin summer had decided to hold off the Hades-like temperature for at least another week and Mike and I met each other on CA 41 north of Fresno under clear, springlike weather on our way to Yosemite. After flashing our National Park Passes and paying the reservation fee (Yes. A reservation fee of $2.00 is now required to get through the park), we proceeded into the higher elevations. This is where we discovered our first SNAFU. Seems like the first week of Tioga Pass opening, there is a lot of one-way traffic control through the Sierra. Morris estimated we lost at least 2 ½ hr. with these delays. After a quick phone discussion with Scott in Lee Vining, it was decided that Tinker Bell would take advantage of the remaining daylight and we would meet in Ely, our 1st night’s stop. Continuing northbound on 395, Mike and I enjoyed the scenery prior to our arrival in Carson City. Shortly after getting on US 50, another contact was made with Scott. This time, not so good news. Seems like Tinker Bell had developed some problems in the high desert and she had developed a case of FTP (Failure to Proceed) about 90 miles east of Fallon. I assured Scott the cavalry was making good time and we would arrive eventually. Sure enough, after topping a slight rise, Mike and I spotted the familiar rear end of a white MGA, with Scott peering through the left front wing diagnosing an ignition issue. After looking at the Lucas points setup, it was determined that the condenser wire and lead wire from the terminal bush were grounded due to a cracked, broken insulator. Searching Goblin’s bonnet, a replacement of the ½” nylon/plastic part was found and Tinker Bell roared to life.
The rest of the trip to Colorado Springs was pretty anticlimactic. Suffice to say there was a whole lot of empty Americana across Nevada and Utah, stark and yet beautiful in a special way. Making our way across Colorado, the scenery changed dramatically; greener, more surface water, ruggedly mountainous. Green Goblin continued to perform admirably – keeping up with the Twin Cam and the 5 speed well until the 11,312’ elevation of Monarch Crest on the Continental Divide. Gob was a mite winded at the apex of that climb! Continuing on to Colorado Springs, Morris bid adios to the caravan to visit #1 daughter, while Mike continued on to Denver to visit his relatives, and Scott & Cathy proceeded to the GT-47 host motel.
The MG Car Club, Rocky Mountain Centre, had put together a great venue. If the club suggested events did not meet the expectations of the participants, people were encouraged to participate in events throughout the Colorado Springs area. On the bucket list for Green Goblin – join Scott & Cathy for a trip up Pike’s Peak. For the more genteel among NAMGAR, a visit to the Glen Eyrie Castle for a high tea was more in line. Lots more activities awaited us all in the next few days including, but by all means, not a complete list: Fun Run Competitive Tour to Cripple Creek, Group Drive to Royal Gorge, the Flying W Ranch Chuckwagon Dinner Show, all kinds of tech sessions w/ John Twist, Ted Ax, Kelvin Dodd, Joe Gunderson, Martin Willis, and Bruce Woodson. The list continued with the Garden of the Gods, National Museum of World War II Aviation, Western Museum of Mining & Industry, Air Force Academy, Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, Penrose Heritage Museum, Ghost Town Museum, Cave of the Winds, 4th Infantry Division Museum, and the U.S. Olympic Training Center and Museum. Sandwiched in among all these activities was the Car Show at Cheyenne Mountain High School and the final night’s activity with the Awards Banquet. The Banquet was somewhat bittersweet for lots of members remembering our missing companions including Carol Shamonsky, Dee Johnston, Bruce Nichols, Tim Gaffney, Randy Grossman, Hank Rippert, Michael Mitchell, and Ed Leavens. However, there was the joy of reconnecting with folks haven’t seen for a time. A special time for Morris was seeing Steve & Diane Mazurek again. Steve & Diane were the first people from NAMGAR that Jay & I met when we first pulled into Solvang five years previously and they must have a record for the GTs attended. Also the joy of meeting new folks in NAMGAR. Yes, the Texas bunch did have a lot of fun and yes, I finally got to meet Water Baby! Scott & Cathy did quite well with taking 1st in class with Tinker Bell and they took 3rd place in the competition tour to Cripple Creek.
All too soon, it was time to bid Colorado Springs a fond farewell. Much thanks to Jim and Lora, the vice chairs of the Rocky Mountain Centre and all their folks, for such a great time. Over breakfast, Alan Magnusson suggested the CA Caravan take an alternative route past Monarch Pass; a little lower in elevation, but just as scenic. With his advice, we headed west, pausing for a photo op at Poncha Pass before stopping for lunch at Saguache, CO., pop. 485. Not to be ignored is a little ‘Mom & Pop’ café named The Village Pub. By all means try the ‘Snickers’ cheesecake. You will not be disappointed in either quality or quantity!
Continuing westward, the caravan had a pretty uneventful remaining journey. Towards the end of the 2nd day, Mike experienced a little issue of vapor lock with Baby Gee, but a visit to a local hardware store in Ely and the purchase of a few emergency fittings guaranteed a successful finish.
A final comment to be made: Morris had debated long and hard about packing Goblin’s hood for the trip. Without the hood, I gained a whole lot of room behind the seats, but not too much creature comfort if Mother Nature got angry. At the last minute, I decided that Beloved Navigator’s Bimini Hood would suffice to keep Sol’s rays from Morris’ scalp and I would gamble that there would be no precipitation across the western United States. Did I also mention that Morris is a terrible poker player? Just west of Gardnerville, NV, prior to making the rise in elevation into CA and Ebbetts Pass, ominous black clouds were starting to develop and the intelligent members of our caravan pulled over to zip up their rear backlights and erect their side curtains. Shortly thereafter, the heavens opened and Goblin & Morris had one fine time navigating the no-center divide road until we were finally able to relax at Arnold. From that point on, the rains quit and we proceeded on to the CA Gold Country where the CA Caravan parted company for the final time: Mike & Baby Gee on to San Francisco; Scott, Cathy, & Tinker Bell to San Jose; and Morris & Goblin southbound to the San Joaquin Valley.
All in all, a totally great time and a remembrance of what Laura Magnusson had said to me 5 years ago that has been the mantra of NAMGAR: “The cars get us here, the people keep us coming back.” Amen. Now, how much further is Memphis from Colorado Springs?